Craig’s Renegade Gym Workout & Vegan Feast

Five days in Vegas. That’s enough for anyone, including me. I was there from Saturday to Thursday morning, and had plenty of steak, poolside lounging, sports-car driving, and mediocre workouts in hotel gyms. I was ready to leave.

geary_ballantyne(Here’s a photo of me and my friend Mike Geary in front of the rented sports car we drove around Nevada one afternoon courtesy of our buddy, Vince DelMonte.)

After Vegas I had to go to New Jersey, where I was speaking at a fitness seminar, but more importantly, I was getting a chance to workout at the Legendary Renegade Gym with owner, Jay Ferruggia.

I arrived at Newark Airport around 3pm. Jay picked me up and we hit a Whole Foods store for some pre-workout grub.

About 3 years ago this might have consisted of meat-filled sandwiches, but Jay’s been a muscle-building vegan for several years now, and I’m cool with eating just about anything healthy.

We grabbed a couple of vegetable-hummus wraps and sat down to tell a few stupid stories and outline our workouts, but nothing can prepare you for the ultimate dream workout den that he’s put together at his gym. It has everything a guy or gal into hard training would want.

From sandbags to tires, from squat racks to the Prowler, from ropes to kettlebells, Jay’s gym has it all. And it also has the one secret ingredient missing from most gyms…Atmosphere. Here’s how it goes down at Jay’s Gym…

NOTE: Do NOT watch if you don’t like loud music…or just turn the music off…

I’ve trained at dozens of gyms on the road, and most of them suck the life out of you, rather then excite you for training. The exceptions are generally Gold’s Gyms, I love training at those places. But Jay’s gym was even better.

Five girls, seven guys, all there to train hardcore.

Tunes were pumping, and everyone did a group warm-up and then split up into groups. I went with Jay and one other guy to do an upper body workout, while another group of younger guys did deadlifts, split squats, get-ups, and sled pulls.

And the girls all trained together with deadlifts, get-ups, chinups, and prowler sprints. Heck, the girls were probably the hardest working group out of us all. Here’s Jen rocking the Prowler and the sled…

Our group went directly to Floor Press with the Log, and we supersetted that with chin-ups. After 3-4 sets of that, we went to Log Clean & Press supersetted with a sled row using the giant ropes. Then we did band pressdowns supersetted with bicep curl bodyweight rows, and then a couple rounds of the “battling ropes”

Most of that made no sense to you, right? log strongman equipment

Okay, the “Log” is this thing (a souped up barbell) =>

The floor press with log is simply done lying on the floor.

A log clean and press is like a barbell clean and press but with the log bar.

And the giant rope row…well, Jay has these monster ropes that he uses for “battling” (see below) and we tied one to the sled and put a bunch of plates on it and rowed hand over hand. It was a good one.

Now for the battling ropes…this can make you sick in a hurry…

Good times. A great way to finish. After training Jay and his girlfriend made a huge vegan feast for dinner while we watched the Cavs-Magic game 5. Combined with the excess of Vegas, this amazing dinner inspired me to the June diet depletion program to fight diet creep. I hope you’ll join me if you need to get back on track.

Our vegan feast consisted of…

  • All the raw vegetables and hummus you can eat
  • A giant salad with black olives
  • Grilled asparagus covered in olive oil
  • A huge serving of rice (can’t remember the type) and beans, with sides of avocado, regular salsa, and mango salsa.

It was great. As good as any meal I had in Vegas (although that steak dinner we had a Nine Steakhouse at the Palms hotel was amazing…the sashimi there melts in your mouth). But again, this was great, just different.

So there you go. Quite a trip to Jersey. If you live within 30 minutes of Jay’s gym, you gotta train there…if you are serious about training hard in the right environment. No quitters.

As a sign in The Renegade Gym said, “You can’t always be the fastest or the strongest, but you can always try the hardest.”

Stay strong,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

PS – If you want to build muscle…

…then go to one of the few strength coaches I take advice from, Jay Ferruggia.

Click here for the 5 Biggest Muscle Building Mistakes